What Is the CRAM Diet? How Does It Help Relieve Diarrhea?

CRAM Diet

When you suffer from gastroenteritis, dyspepsia, or diarrhea, having the right diet is very important. Your diet will help in a speedy recovery and prevent further complications. The CRAM diet consists of cereal, rice, applesauce, and milk.

It is used to treat diarrhea and gastroenteritis. It helps treat the root cause and accompanying symptoms such as dehydration, fatigue, abdominal cramps, and lethargy. Read on to know more about the CRAM diet plan and the CRAM diet foods.

CRAM Diet Plan and Nutrition

Until a few years ago, doctors recommended the BRAT diet for gastrointestinal disorders for about 24 to 48 hours; however, now they recommend the CRAM diet. The CRAM diet has more nutrition and proteins than the BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) diet.

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Let’s find out how each CRAM diet component provides nutrition and helps cure diarrhea.

Cereals and Rice

Cereals and rice are rich in soluble fiber. It forms a thick gel in the intestine and absorbs the excess fluid. It prevents painful spasms and stomach cramps which are common in gastrointestinal disorders.

Applesauce

Applesauce contains pectin which has a soothing effect on the gastrointestinal system.

Milk

Milk adds proteins and fats to the diet. Normally, the perception is that milk would worsen diarrhea. But, that is not the case. Children, in particular, may benefit from milk as long as they are not vomiting.

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Milk products such as yogurt are also extremely useful in treating diarrhea because of the good bacteria in it.

According to John Snyder, M.D., a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the CRAM diet helps treat diarrhea faster and provides more complete proteins and fats than the BRAT diet. He also recommends combining the CRAM diet with an electrolyte-replacement drink.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people suffering from diarrhea to have a well-balanced diet. The choice of foods and the quantity matter a lot when it comes to curing diarrhea.

When a person suffers from dehydration due to diarrhea or vomiting, it is essential to replace the loss of fluids. If the vomiting subsides and the patient tolerates intake of fluids, they should start oral re-hydration.

How the CRAM Diet Works for Diarrhea Relief

When you are suffering from gastrointestinal problems, start with the BRAT diet first. Then, you can gradually switch to CRAM diet. The foods in the BRAT diet, like banana, rice, applesauce, and toast, are low in dietary fiber but high in starch, so they are easy to digest.

The BRAT diet lacks essential nutrients including proteins, so adhering to it for a long period can lead to weakness and lethargy. Also, it may adversely affect your health.

Electrolyte imbalance and untreated dehydration could lead to severe complications and hospitalization. You should also avoid simple sugars such as undiluted apple juice, colas and sodas, and sugary cereals, as they may aggravate symptoms.

The CRAM diet, especially milk, provides energy to your body to function and doesn’t stress your gastrointestinal tract. It helps in a speedy recovery of the body.

Do not follow the CRAM diet for more than two days. The diarrhea symptoms should subside in a couple of days. However, consult your doctor if the symptoms persist.

3 Alternatives to the CRAM Diet

These are three alternatives to the CRAM diet, which can also help cure diarrhea.

1. BRAT Diet

It consists of bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. This diet is low in fiber and bland. It doesn’t contain enough essential nutrients like fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Toast helps neutralize the stomach acids.

Upon heating, the starch in bread is broken down to light carbs, which can be easily digested. A toast made from whole wheat bread has soluble fibers which help treat diarrhea, and is healthy, too.

2. BRATT Diet

It is same as the BRAT diet, but with an additional component—tea. Tea helps hydrate the body and reduces the loss of electrolytes. You should also consume rehydrating fluids along with the BRATT diet.

Tea increases the body’s immunity against various intestinal disorders. You can opt for oolong tea, black tea, or green tea. Tea with ginger is especially helpful to cure diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.

3. BRATTY Diet

This diet consists of banana, rice, applesauce, toast, tea, and yogurt. The BRATTY diet foods are easily digestible, low in fiber, and starchy.

Yogurt contains healthy bacteria that helps heal the gut. It is a good source of proteins and calcium, which helps provide energy. Opt for plain yogurt. You can add honey for additional health benefits and taste.

Related: Alternatives to the BRAT Diet

Final Word on the CRAM Diet

You can adopt the above diet plans for gastrointestinal disorders, but not for more than 48 hours. Also, it is important to find the cause of your diarrhea, whether it is indigestion due to overeating, gastroenteritis, bacterial infection, or anything else.

If the cause is simply indigestion, you can safely use these diets, and the symptoms should subside in two days. After that, slowly start a normal diet upon consulting your doctor.

While using these diets, it is important to consider the suitability for our body. For example, milk is a part of the CRAM diet. People who are lactose intolerant or have a milk allergy should avoid the milk component; they can have yogurt instead, depending on their tolerance.

If the symptoms persist for more than 24 hours and you have abdominal pain, high temperature, or blood in your stool, you should seek medical attention immediately. You should receive a full evaluation and diagnosis to prevent serious illnesses such as ulcerative colitis, appendicitis, or food poisoning.


Sources:

“CRAM diet,” Wikipedia; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CRAM_diet, last accessed June 14, 2017.

Hill, S., “What Are the BRAT and CRAM Gastrointestinal Upset Diets?” EzineArticles, August 13, 2009;
http://ezinearticles.com/?What-Are-the-BRAT-and-CRAM-Gastrointestinal-Upset-Diets?&id=2755812.

“The BRAT and CRAM diet for Diarrhea,” Wellness with Sameer; http://wellnesswithsameer.blogspot.in/2014/01/the-brat-and-cram-diet-for-diarrhea.html#.WUCnrjeLnDe, last accessed June 14, 2017.

“CRAM Diet,” RightDiagnosis; http://www.rightdiagnosis.com/diets/cram-diet.htm, last accessed June 14, 2017.

“BRATTY Diet,” Diet Health Club; http://www.diethealthclub.com/bratty-diet.html, last accessed June 14, 2017.